Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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September 10, 2008 - MidWeek
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Why ‘no’ to rail

Thank you very much for the MidWeek cover story on rail. That same issue also includes three columns and one letter on the subject of Oahu mass transit. There has been a deafening silence on mass transit alternatives by the local newspapers and TV media. Editorials and opinions published this year have mostly shown support for building the Steel on Steel Rail Fixed Guideway.

Even with the March 2008 publication of UH Professor Panos Prevedouros’ Study, “Transportation Alternatives Analysis for Mitigating Traffic Congestion Between Leeward Oahu and Honolulu,” there has been almost zero information in the local newspapers regarding the professor’s proposal to build a $900 million high-occupancy toll (HOT) route, a solution which will cost 15 percent of the price of the proposed $7 billion heavy rail project for Honolulu. The fact that HOT will provide traffic relief while the rail will worsen traffic is not well known by John Q. Public. Very little has been publicly said on this and on issues regarding mass transit alternatives. It behooves the print and TV media to make this kind of information readily and repeatedly available to the public before the general election in November.

There are at least four issues that should be widely discussed:

1) The vehicle capacity of H-1 is 9,500 vehicles per hour (vph). The equivalent vehicle capacity of the 6,000 passenger rail is 5,000 vph. The city’s AA study shows that there will still be an 8,000 vph overload on H-1 in 2030 after the $7 billion rail is operating. What does the mayor propose to do to remove the remaining H-1 overload of 8,000 vph?

2) Taxes have increased by 40 percent under the Hannemann administration. How does the mayor plan to fund the $7 billion rail without raising the property taxes by at least 40 percent?

3) The city’s annual budget is $2.3 billion. How does the city propose to fix the multi-billion ($3 billion plus) infrastructure deficiencies in traffic congestion, solid waste (including H-Power, closure of Waimanalo Gulch landfill and new recycling plants), sewer repairs and sewage treatment plant upgrades and a new bypass road in Waianae?

4) The known traffic bottlenecks are at the H-1/H-2 merge and at the Middle Street merge. Since the highways outside of downtown Honolulu are state-owned, why shouldn’t the state take the lead to provide traffic relief by building a new elevated three-lane reversible HOT transit way from Pearl City to downtown Honolulu for a cost of $900 million? HOT will make rail totally unnecessary.

I am relieved that MidWeek has taken the effort to educate the public on mass transit so people can make an informed decision.

Ben Ramelb, P.E.

Enforce the law

The posted speed limit on our freeways is 50 or 55 mph. People are driving 60, 65, 70 mph. The law’s not working. Let’s dump the law.

It’s a crime to murder someone. Just days ago an 18-year-old was gunned down in Ala Moana Park. The law is ineffective. Let’s dump the law.

Flawed logic for sure. But that’s the kind of convoluted logic Bob Jones is applying to the drinking laws when he says the 21-year age requirement isn’t working.

Seems to me that the older people are before they’re allowed to drink, the better. I’d much rather take my chances with three more years of maturity than to just chuck the law and let every adult 18 and over drink to their heart’s content.

Who says the law isn’t working? The law is there, it should be obeyed. And it’s only there as a backstop for parents as they school their children on the risks of drinking. Three more years of that won’t hurt anyone.

Michael Shishido

Giving credit

Thanks for printing the Pa’ina spread on the March of Dimes Tadd Fujikawa Invitational golf tournament. Unfortunately, it mentions HMSA when HMAA was the presenting sponsor. I can see how easy it would be to make that mistake, but HMAA did spend a lot of money to be the presenting sponsor, and we’d appreciate a correction.

Carmella Hernandez,
March of Dimes

Editor’s note: MidWeek regrets the mistake and salutes HMAA for helping such a good cause.

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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Over the last few months we have all heard about the advantages and disadvantages of different types of solutions to our traffic problems. However, I just wanted to point out that although rail is an expensive solution, it does offer the ability to continually upgrade and expand capacity that far exceeds that of a HOT lane. Also, another potential problem that I have not seen mentioned by supporters of HOT lanes is the fact that the people in Hawaii would be taxed their hard earned money in order to fund this HOT lane. Then after it is built, we would have to spend our hard earned money again to be able to use it. That is preposterous.  At least with our current HOV lane, all I need is another person in the car with me and I don’t have to continuously pay to use it. Hawaii already have one of the highest costs of living in the U.S, do we really want to add to that?  It is the responsibility of the state and the city to look for viable alternatives that won’t put cause more financial stress to hard working people of Hawaii.
I have another question for those supporting HOT lanes. What happens when the HOT lane is at capacity and there is still traffic congestion.
At least the rail option takes people out of their cars and off the roads. HOT lanes do not do that. They just add a different way for people to over crowd the already crowded highways.
I would like to point out also, that it is not lawful for a state to use public funds to build a road that the public has to continuously pay tolls to use. Tolls are only allowed on private roads owned by private individuals. Public roads may charge tolls but only for the construction costs and beginning operational costs. I would suggest the state look at cases in California and Florida for clarification on this issue before they put an HOT alternative on the board instead of rail.
In conclusion, almost every major developed country and major city has a rail system for public transportation. It is time for the people of Hawaii to catch up with the rest of the world.

Chris Catron

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